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Hidden identity of a hackerThere were nearly 17 million victims of identity theft in 2014, according to the Department of Justice. With those numbers, consumers have plenty to be concerned about. An online survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) has taken a look at levels of consumer awareness related to identity theft, and reveals how concerned people are.

“Every minute of every day credit criminals are working to stay ahead of technology and law enforcement when it comes to stealing personal information,” says Bruce McClary, vice president of public relations and external affairs for the NFCC. “While there are laws and tools available to help safeguard personal financial information, the responsibility for identity protection ultimately rests on each consumer.”

More than half (66 percent) of those responding to the online survey indicated that
they would like to feel more protected, but don’t know what steps to take. The NFCC offers the following suggestions for those wanting to safeguard their financial data:

1. Monitor credit activity regularly by reviewing payment activity and by checking credit reports (at least once a year). Keeping a watchful eye on credit card usage is not just good for maintaining a balanced budget, it also makes it possible to respond quickly when unauthorized activity takes place.

2. Review checking and savings account balances daily. Even though stolen money can be replaced, the amount of consumer liability depends on how quickly the theft is reported. Taking a daily look at balances and debit card transactions helps prevent loss.

3. Know what steps to take in case of credit fraud or ID theft. There are many good educational resources, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a comprehensive website that is easy to navigate and has a step-by-step list of actions necessary when a crime occurs.

“Staying alert and informed is the first level of defense,” continues McClary. “People should always remain vigilant when it comes to protecting their identity and financial future.”

For more information, visit www.nfcc.org.

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